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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Discovering the Historic Houses of Snowdonia





The cover of the book showing Cae-glas, Llanfrothen, dated 1547/8, looking towards Cnicht. © Crown copyright: RCAHMW

One of the most frequently asked questions about historic houses is: ‘When exactly was it built?’ We can now answer that question in Snowdonia.

Discovering the Historic Houses of Snowdonia, published in December 2014, is the result of a recently completed project to date scientifically about 100 of the earliest houses in Snowdonia built before date inscriptions became fashionable.

The partnership project between the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the Dating Old Welsh Houses Group involved many householders and about 200 local people in an ambitious exercise in community archaeology. It has taken advantage of the new technique of tree-ring dating that allows the scientific dating of timber, which can be accurate to the year and even the season of felling.

The book presents the revealing and often surprising results of the project along with many previously unpublished photographs and plans. Detailed house histories cover medieval hall-houses and storeyed houses of all types. The case studies include Tŷ-mawr, Wybrnant ─ the home of Bishop Morgan, translator of the whole Bible into Welsh ─ which is now shown to have been built in 1565, just as the young William Morgan was leaving Penmachno for Cambridge.

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, who is launching the book on 4 December 2014 at Plas Tan-y-Bwlch, said: “As someone who has lived almost all his life in Snowdonia, I can but feel affection and respect for these buildings, tinged with a little envy and a twinge of respectful awe!”

The book launch will be followed by the Royal Commission’s Christmas lecture at the Royal Commission in Aberystwyth on Friday 5 December, when Richard Suggett (co-author) will be speaking on “Discovering the Historic Houses of Snowdonia” at 1.30pm and 5.30pm. These are public lectures but booking is essential. For further details, please contact the Royal Commission on 01970 621200, nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk

Discovering the Historic Houses of Snowdonia is a large format book of 295 pages with 225 high-quality illustrations, and costs just £29.95. It is the ideal Christmas gift!

Tŷ-mawr, Wybrnant, home of the translator of the Bible into Welsh, Bishop William Morgan. © Crown copyright: RCAHMW

Oerddwr-isaf, Beddgelert, an ancient farm-house in its landscape setting, dated 1494/5.  © Crown copyright: RCAHMW

Eighteenth-century stencilled decoration at Bodllosged, Ffestiniog. © Crown copyright: RCAHMW



For further information and images, please contact:
Patricia Moore,
E-mail: patricia.moore@rcahmw.gov.uk
Tel: 01970 621200


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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The R.E. Kay Collection - Treasures From Our Archive





Llanederyn Church and Glebe Cottage, 1937. One of the earlier entries, it demonstrates amply the high standard of draughtsmanship to be found in the notebooks. C577935 DI2013_0817.

When considering privately donated records, created by non-professionals in the fields of archaeology or architecture, it would be difficult to cite a more impressive and striking collection than that produced by R.E. Kay over six decades from the 1930s until 1990. Comprising 39 notebooks indexed by the author, the collection records a series of walks or drives in Wales and the borders, and occasionally elsewhere in the UK, undertaken by Richard E. Kay during his spare time, from boyhood until old age. The books meticulously document a wealth of archaeological, architectural and antiquarian detail encountered during each tour, and are beautifully illustrated by R.E. Kay, a talented draughtsman.

In addition to forming an attractive and unusual set of records, the notebooks include important information about sites and features which may have since vanished or are not noted elsewhere.

Whitford Bay and a neolithic chambered tomb at Penmaen Burrows, 1984. Much more recent, the quality of draughtsmanship is unchanged – unlike that of the handwriting! C577959 DI2013_0831.
For further information, please visit our website or contact the NMRW: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk


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Monday, 17 November 2014

The Edward Hubbard Collection





Llanwddyn. The parish church of St. John in the distance, and the Powis Arms hotel to the right. The village contains the church, two chapels, a school, three public houses, and about forty private houses, all of which will be submerged.

The Edward Hubbard collection consists of images of the construction of dams over the rivers Elan and Vyrnwy, both huge engineering projects to provide water to Birmingham and Liverpool respectively.

The photographs in the Lake Vyrnwy album (C12624, 1880s) show not only the vast effort, and minimal machinery, involved in the construction but also views of Llanwddyn village street, with the inhabitants outside their houses looking at the photographer. It must have taken a while to set up the equipment and it would have been a relatively rare sight attracting much attention – very different from today’s realities of ubiquitous cameras and instantly uploaded images.

These evocative photos are captioned ‘Llanwddyn village –to be submerged’ and the like; a whole village about to vanish. The community was relocated – apparently without any controversy – to a replacement village built by the Liverpool Corporation on a more elevated site above the reservoir.

The last photo in the album depicts a group of engineers, ‘the boys of the old brigade’. All of them have beards; is this the men’s fashion of the day, or a sign of social class? And where in the social hierarchy of the day would an engineer be placed?

The Boys of the Old Brigade.
The Vyrnwy Masonry Dam. North west end of wall in September, 1883. Material: Cyclopean masonry in Portland cement. Greatest thickness at base, 120 feet. Height of masonry above foundation when the photograph was taken, 35 feet.
Foundation Rock of the Vyrnwy Masonry Dam. South west end of the trench as exposed in June, 1882.

For further information, please visit our website or contact the NMRW: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk

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Friday, 14 November 2014

Rokeby Collection - Treasures From Our Archive









The Reverend Hubert Denys Eddowes Rokeby collected a vast number of postcards covering all the stations and halts in the United Kingdom. Where he was unable to find postcards or pre-existing photographs, he took his own pictures capturing the state of the railways before the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.The NMRW holds the Welsh collection which consists of 9 albums, some including route maps showing where the lines ran.

Boncath Railway Station in 1958, on the Cardigan Extension of the Whitland and Cardigan Railway, DI2010_0366, C.442602, NPRN 410177
Pont Llanio Station in 1937, on the former Manchester & Milford Railway DI2008_0706, C.431780, NPRN 41351


For further information, please visit our website or contact the NMRW: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk


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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ordnance Survey Aerial Photography Collections - Treasures From Our Archive







A large proportion of the Aerial Photographic Collections within the National Monuments Record of Wales comprises prints and negatives from the Ordnance Survey Aerial Mapping Programme. These vertical views date from between 1962 and 2009. Each individual frame on these very large rolls of film is in the region of 9” (23cm) square. Such a large format will capture an incredible level of detail on the ground.

Porthcawl, Glamorgan DI_21014_0440

The photograph above (DI_21014_0440) shows Porthcawl, Glamorgan. There is a light amount of traffic on the road, but there are many cars parked on the promenade. The tide is out – the boats in the harbour are lying on the mud, and the beach in the bottom-right shows a large expanse of exposed sand.

In the top-left corner of the photograph the counter shows this is frame number 123. In the black strip on the top of the frame, there are four small windows giving vital details about the image. On the left, the altimeter reads 6,170ft. The next window the spirit bubble for the azimuth indicator shows us that the aircraft is flying level. The calibrated clock tells us the photograph was taken at exactly 15 seconds past 10:55. In the last window, the date is the 5 of May 1993, with the unique film reference number 93-125.

In addition to showing an interesting ‘snapshot’ of past land-use patterns, it is possible for the historical aerial photography to be used for a variety of purposes, including archaeological investigation, locating boundaries and footpaths, planning issues, site morphology, etc.
The whole country was overflown and photographed to update the map coverage. Backup ground surveys and calibration by OS staff made this a very efficient and accurate method of recording the landscape.

These collections are accessible for viewing in our Search Room & Library during our normal opening hours. If you wish to consult the full range of any available aerial photographic cover an appointment is advisable.

For further information, please visit our website or contact the NMRW: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk


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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Malcolm Seaborne Collection - Treasures From Our Archive







This collection includes black and white photographs, notes and drawings, and a range of copied material relating to schools and school-rooms throughout Wales. The information was gathered for his book ‘Schools in Wales 1500-1900’ (published 1992), and subsequently donated to our archive.  The black and white photographs, notes and drawings are an important record of school architecture:  some of the Victorian School buildings have been demolished; others have been altered and re-used as Community Centres and Branch Libraries, or converted to domestic use.

Old Grammar School, Usk  NPRN 410496 DI2010_0825
National School, Llanengan NPRN 23226 DI2007_1560
National School, Abergele NPRN 23348 DI2007_1561

Find out more at the Royal Commission’s Archive Awareness Day on 12 November, 2014 – a day of talks and tours. Open to all!

For further information, please visit our website or contact the NMRW: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk


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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Herbert L. North Collection - Treasures From Our Archive







A notably attractive example of records from an architectural practice, the Herbert L. North Collection includes plans and drawings, with some photographs, of North’s designs for domestic buildings, churches, and public commissions such as schools. Based in North Wales from c.1900-1940, the North and Padmore partnership was founded by North, a well-known and respected architect working in the Arts and Crafts style. Many of the buildings illustrated in the collection can be seen today, particularly in the vicinity of Llanfairfechan, where the practice was based and North lived, though some of the designs were never executed. The records number over 200 individually catalogued items, nearly all of which have been digitised.

Plans and elevations of a proposed design for a house in The Close, Llanfairfechan, for the Right Hon. the Lord Olivier. Scale: eight feet to one inch; ink on paper, ND2/012, DI2010_1100. The house was never built.

Elevations and sections for Gyffin National School, ink and colour wash on paper, scale two feet to one inch, ND2/058, DI2005_1214.


Find out more at the Royal Commission’s Archive Awareness Day on 12 November, 2014 – a day of talks and tours. Open to all!

For further information, please visit our website or contact the NMRW: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk


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